“What is that?” I asked my best friend. She looked at me with a very puzzled look and responded “It’s a pot pie”. As the words came out of her lips so did a look of what planet are you from that you don’t know what this food is.
This conversation took place when I was a young girl and had only been in the States for a few years. At this time I was not only getting used to my new home but also all of the new foods that I was discovering. (Some of you may recall the pieces I’ve written about those experiences.) Pot pie is not something most Mexicans grow up eating; at least not ones living in Mexico or new arrivals to the US. Sure I knew about cherry, apple and blueberry pie, but “pot pie”? Never heard of it. I remember looking at the small blue box and wondering what this pot pie tasted like. It didn’t look too bad; those juicy chicken bits and tender vegetables oozing out of the pie, in the photo, looked pretty inviting.
Unfortunately that first time I saw, and learned about, pot pie would not be the first time I tasted it. That evening I was not asked to stay for dinner at my friends house. This wasn’t something that I took offence to, I understood why my friend’s mother only very rarely invited me to eat at their house. My (American) friend grew up in a single-parent home. With only one income, her mom had to be very careful about expenses and making sure that her family was taken care of. Pulling one more pot pie out of the freezer would mean that the next meal would leave their family short one serving.
Sometimes I could see that her mom would be embarrassed when they asked me to leave so they could eat their meal. But I learned quickly to excuse myself and go home before they ate so that no one would feel uncomfortable. It wasn’t that the family wasn’t generous, they were in so many ways. They didn’t care that I was Mexican or that I had an accent because I was still learning to speak English. When I was around them they always made me feel like part of their family. And when her mom could splurge and take them to Chuck E. Cheese, the fair, and amusement parks, I was always invited. I always felt welcomed in their home and their whole family was always welcomed in my house too.
My best friend introduced me to so many American things, and my family introduced her to many of our Mexican foods and traditions. We were good girls, even when we talked about boys or admired those in our neighbourhood. She lent me her bike, scooter and shared many popsicles and the things she owned. To me it was like she was just another one of my sisters.
The pie recipe I am sharing with you today is very different than the frozen ones from the blue boxes; this pot pie has a Mexican flavour spin. I love the traditional chicken pot pie but this night I was craving something that was a tad spicy and wouldn’t be too difficult to prepare. When it comes to pie (both sweet and savoury) the crust is super important. This crust is unlike the ones we can buy ready made from the grocery store; it’s made with fine yellow corn flour and whole grain oat flour. Instead of butter I used olive oil and to help bind the dough better I added eggs. I know that to pie crust purist my recipe is blasphemous. But I promise that you will also like this different tasting, crumbly pie crust too.
- Combine the corn flour with oat flour and sea salt. Lightly beat the eggs with the olive oil and disperse over the flour mix. Using your hands and in circular motions mix the egg-oil mixture into the flour. Adding one tablespoon at a time, begin mixing in the water. Continue until the dough comes together and is wet like play-dough. Depending on how humid your kitchen is you may need to add less or more water -- so it's very important to add a little at a time. This dough does not roll out like wheat dough. You will either need to press it into the tart/pie moulds or flatten it first in a tortilla press. I've done it both ways and can say that the tortilla press is faster. You'll also need to be extra careful if using the tortilla press, make sure you read my tortilla post for tips, because the dough is very fragile and breaks easily; if this happens pinch the pieces together. Lastly, you'll need to reserve about one quarter of the dough to make the top pie layer and seal it. Just make sure that the flattened button layer isn't too thick and you'll have plenty dough for both layers. If you'd like to roll out the 8 layers/circles ahead just to make sure.
- I use this dough for savoury tart and it works excellent. It isn't flaky like pie crust but it does its job great. After baking the crust is crispy outside and tender inside. The corn flour taste is dominant and you'll only get a slight nuttiness from the oat flour.
-This dough would also work for empanadas, or hand pies. You can also use the tortilla press to make the circles for the empanadas.
- Instead of olive oil you can use another healthy vegetable oil or coconut oil.
- 1-2 Jalapenos, stems cut off
- 150 gm or 2 small mild green peppers, like cubanelle
- 150 gm or 1 medium tomato
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 200 gms cooked and finely chopped or shredded chicken (I used leftover roasted chicken)
- 150 gm or 2 small mild green chiles (like cubanelle), finely diced
- ½ tsp sea salt, adjust to taste
- pinch ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- corn-oat flour pie crust from recipe above
- 4 tart molds sized 5 in or 12 cm each
- Remove the stems from the jalapeno(s) and green chiles. Place all ingredients into a pot of water, simmer until everything is soft. Drain and allow to cool enough to handle. Peel the tomato and place all ingredients into a blender. Blend into a smooth salsa.
- Make sure you have made the pie crust and have pressed it into the moulds before proceeding. Heat the oil and sauté the chiles until soft, add the chicken, salt, black pepper and sauce and simmer for about 5-8 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt if desired, remove from heat and set aside. While the filling is cooling heat oven to 210C, and butter the tart moulds. Press the dough onto the tart molds, fill with chicken mixture, cover with top dough layer, cut a small x in center of each tart. If you'd like you may brush with egg-wash, but it isn't necessary. Place in center of oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the pie crust feels crisp and firm and baked through. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Serve with a side of refried beans or salad if desired.
So what do these Mexicanized chicken pot pies taste like? The chicken and green sauce is very flavourful (the cubanelles work great for sauces) but not too spicy — of course you can adjust to your heat level. The pie crust is crisp and crumbly and very tasty. As I took each bite I couldn’t help but be reminded of the taste of tamales, of course that is a very good thing. They tasted so good that hubby ate too and I ate the one leftover the next day. In case you’re wondering they taste even better the next day, in fact you could make them ahead and even freeze them too.
Thanks for stopping by and I hope these mini pot pies make their way to your belly sometime soon. Have a beautiful day!